Holiday Customer Support Starts with Workforce Management
At this time of year, most companies – at least those that offer retail products or seasonal services – have had to ramp up their customer support departments with a mix of overtime for regular staff, temporary workers, or outsourced customer support. Just adding the extra manpower is challenging enough, but it’s important to remember that it doesn’t stop with hiring and training. Extra effort is needed to manage this temporarily inflated workforce effectively.
Customers won’t “cut you a break” during the holiday season if the quality of support falls off. They won’t be patient because they know you have extra call volume. Instead, they’ll resent any extra time they have to wait because of long hold times or inexperienced contact center agents. Chances are they’re busier than usual at this time of year, and their tempers are probably shortened. (Good will toward men often doesn’t extend to call centers.)
“How you handle your customers during this hectic time will determine if they continue to do business with you after the holiday season,” wrote Donna Brugger Drehmann in a recent article for The Tennessean. “Holiday season really isn’t any different than the rest of the year as far as what your customers are looking for – it is just that it is critical that you deliver it.”
So how do you make sure your workforce is ready for customers? You make sure your workforce management system is up-to-date and capable of scaling up to the task. The spreadsheet method, or software from 10 years ago, simply isn’t capable of the kind of flexibility required at this time of year. Call volumes can be very unpredictable, and managers often need to add extra capacity on-the-fly. Sitting down and redoing the schedule each time something unexpected crops up isn’t realistic. Holiday contact centers require a workforce management solution that generates actionable intelligence for managers who are preparing staff levels on a daily basis, and even hour-to-hour.
Modern workforce management suites can offer a more detailed and comprehensive look at a company’s staffing expectations for a given day. By efficiently managing the workforce, contact center managers can curb issues that tend to wreak havoc with holiday customer support, including a lack of schedule adherence, under-staffing and unexpected call volume. (Of course, it’s important to do this all year long, but during the holidays, the strain caused by ineffective workforce management becomes even more noticeable.)
It’s also important to remember that it’s not just about your customers: if you overwork your employees by denying them breaks and giving the “brain fry,” it’s going to negatively affect the quality of the customer experience you’re offering. What’s good for agents is good for customers.
Edited by Alicia Young